This is The Living Word Bible Study based on the Bible readings for Sunday, April 23, 2023 set by the interdenominational scheme widely used by both churches and chapels.
Resurrection: God made His salvation and resurrection visible in Jesus
Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19 — Praise for God’s goodness in deliverance
• The psalmist pledges to make a public thank offering
1-2 I love the LORD, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy. Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.
“He heard my voice” — personal thanksgiving for deliverance from death — see Hezekiah’s deliverance, Isaiah 38:10-20.
3-4 The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: “LORD, save me!”
“Cords of death entangled me” — pulled towards the realm of the dead. Jonah prayed in a similar way, Jonah 2:5, also Psalm 18:4-5.
12 What shall I return to the LORD for all His goodness to me?
“What shall I return” — or render. The meaning is paying back positively.
13-14 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfil my vows to the LORD in the presence of all His people.
“Cup of salvation” — after the Passover meal. Jesus would have shared this reminder of God’s salvation on the night He was betrayed, Matt. 26:27; Luke 22:14-22.
15-16 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His faithful servants. Truly I am Your servant, LORD; I serve You just as my mother did; You have freed me from my chains.
“I am Your servant” — words brought alive in John 13:1-17 by the Lord showing that every disciple must be like a servant.
17-19 I will sacrifice a thank offering to You and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfil my vows to the LORD in the presence of all His people, in the courts of the house of the LORD — in your midst, Jerusalem. Praise the LORD.
“Courts of the house of the Lord” — temple precincts.
SUMMARY The Hebrew Scriptures (OT), the good news of Jesus Christ (gospels) and Christians living in the power of the Spirit (Acts and letters) are three perspectives from the same author, the Holy Spirit, starting with this OT poem of thankfulness for deliverance from death.
APPLICATION This points to our living in gratitude to God for His reprieve of us, paid for in a servant-like way by the blood sacrifice of His Son.
QUESTION How might the unbelieving world see in us, our thankfulness for what the Lord has done?
Luke 24:13-35 — Two disciples returning from the city get a lesson
• They understand how recent events were foretold — then Jesus reveals Himself
13-14 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.
“Two of them” — possibly husband and wife, one named Cleopas, (v.18) perhaps mentioned in John 19:25. They were heading north-west of Jerusalem.
15-16 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognising Him.
“Kept from recognising” — first, they needed to grasp how His life, death and resurrection were all part of God’s plan of wider salvation.
17-18 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, asked Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
“Who does not know?” — a public deterrent, crucifixions were common knowledge.
19 “What things?” He asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.
“A prophet” — rowing back from ‘Messiah’, who was seen as overcoming, not dying (v.21).
20-21 The chief priests and our rulers handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him; but we had hoped that He was the One who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.
“Redeem Israel” — they saw freedom from Gentile rule but God’s purpose was freedom from slavery to sin.
22-24 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find His body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said He was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
“Did not see Jesus” — these two had not heard about Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene, John 20:1, 16-18.
25-27 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.
“The Messiah… suffer these things” — they thought the crucifixion negated Jesus being the Messiah. But it was foretold. It confirmed it.
“Moses and all the prophets” — the whole OT points forward to Jesus.
• For further study, read Isaiah 50:4-9; Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 2, Psalm 16, Psalm 22, Psalm 118.
28-29 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if He were going farther. But they urged Him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So He went in to stay with them.
“Stay with us” — hospitality was customary, but they wanted to know more.
30-31 When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognised Him, and He disappeared from their sight.
“He took bread” — although not the host but the guest.
“He disappeared” — and also appeared, passed through walls and doors, covered distances instantly — and ate. Resurrection body, different properties.
32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
“Opened” — interpreted.
33-35 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognised by them when He broke the bread.
“Appeared to Simon” — confirmed independently by Paul, 1 Cor. 15:5.
SUMMARY One of Luke’s longest and therefore most important stories. Two disciples, in shock after their Lord’s torture and shame, are joined by a fellow traveller who shares how this was foretold, something God knew that evil men would do. Jesus later revealed Himself as they ate together.
APPLICATION Understanding how God turns such evil to our good, and why His anointed One, like a lamb made sacrifice for our sin, had to experience injustice and suffer, changes our whole view of life.
QUESTION How is receiving instruction and encouragement from the Lord present with us, different from following the example of someone who lived before?
Acts 2:14, 36-41 — Peter tells the crowd their action killed Messiah
• Holy conviction comes on them and they respond in a mass baptism
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.
“Peter stood up” — first to declare who Jesus was, Matthew 16:13-19, he led in bearing witness to Him.
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
“Lord and Messiah” — having already explained that Jesus, born to be Messiah and anointed at baptism, was now raised to life, ascended, and enthroned at God’s right hand.
• For further study, see Luke 2:11, 3:21-22, 4:18; Acts 2:32-33, 4:27.
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
“What shall we do?” — the moment of Holy Spirit conviction — and new birth.
38-39 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
“Repent” — change what we believe: turn from self to God; for Judeans present, former attitudes about Jesus.
“Be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ” — public declaration of allegiance to Jesus from change of heart. Baptism in the Bible means ‘immerse’; follows conscious decision to “repent” symbolising being immersed in Jesus, washing off old life and rising into the new.
40-41 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
“Three thousand” — large bath structures in temple precincts were enough to baptise this number.
SUMMARY Peter’s message established the pattern for preaching in the early church. It set out clearly who Jesus is, and the “repent” and “be baptised” call to submit our pride and independence to His Lordship
APPLICATION In the same breath, Peter mentions what enables us to live differently, “the gift of the Holy Spirit”, the power that raised Jesus from the dead. The Spirit empowers us to change and live different, thankful lives showing in many small ways our inexpressible joy and recognition of what Jesus did for us.
QUESTION How does the word “repent” sit with you?
1 Peter 1:17-23 — A call to believers to live up to who they are
• The love which redeemed us, is what we are empowered to show to others
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.
“Since you call on a Father” — NASB “If you address as Father”, another way of saying ‘If you are a Christian’.
“Reverent fear” — respect and deference; awe not terror.
18-19 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
“You were redeemed” — slaves could be released for a ransom; a prisoner of war bought back for a sum. As prisoners of sin’s curse we cannot raise the price. Only God can ransom us by payment in the blood of His Son, the ultimate sacrificial lamb.
20-21 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
“He was chosen” — God planned redemption through His Son from the beginning of time.
“These last times” — inaugurated by the coming of Jesus the Messiah and until His return.
22-23 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
“For you have been born again” — Peter exhorts readers and hearers to ‘become what you are’. The evidence of becoming a Christian is the Holy Spirit’s transformation of character from within, hence “love from the heart”.
“Through the living… word of God” — God’s word is not magical but at the same time it has spiritual power, working in concert with the Holy Spirit.
SUMMARY Jesus, chosen for His role before Creation but only revealed in Peter’s lifetime, paid the ultimate price for believers to be able to be born again.
APPLICATION In contrast to the old life, this new life is full — in particular, of the awareness of God’s love for us, which redeemed us. The experience of that love is the source of the love we have for others — believers or not yet in that privileged position.
QUESTION What is it about God’s love for us that is so special?
PRAYER Lord God, we are so grateful that we can call on You as a loving Father. And at this season of new life, and new awareness of what Your Son Jesus has done for us, we choose for Him to take lordship of our lives as we set out to share Your love with others. Amen.